An Estonian member of parliament, Marko Mihkelson, was quite miffed by a recent Stephen Cohen column in the International Herald Tribune, and has a strongly worded letter to the editor in response. …and here I was thinking that the expression “neo-imperialist Russia” could only be found on the La Russophobe blog… From Marko Mihkelson:
Neo-imperialist Russia Stephen Cohen presented a dangerous misreading of Russia (“Russia: The missing debate,” Views, May 3).
Cohen argues that Russia’s resurgence during the presidency of Vladimir Putin was caused by active U.S. support of democracy and free markets in Central and Eastern Europe. He adds that Russia’s backlash was caused by the collective view in Washington in the post-Soviet period that “America was entitled to Russia’s traditional sphere of security and energy supplies, from the Baltics, Ukraine and Georgia to Central Asia and the Caspian.”Cohen calls for a stop to NATO enlargement and for the U.S. to soften its position on building missile-defense units in the Czech Republic and Poland.The article reflects a rather old way of thinking. Apparently, Cohen has a difficult time recognizing that the Soviet Empire is history and that the free nations on the Russia’s borders have the right to decide their own future.Over the last 17 years, my country, Estonia, where I serve as a member of Parliament, has rebuilt a stable and prosperous society, which was destroyed by Soviet occupation after World War II.If the promoting of democracy and the rule of law by Russia’s neighbors is seen as threat in Moscow, then the Western world should be seriously worried.Russia’s current foreign policy tools reflect 19th-century thinking. Cohen is worried that the U.S. presidential candidates are not paying enough attention to this challenge, but John McCain has been quite clear in how the West should deal with neo-imperialist Russia.Marko Mihkelson Tallinn, Estonia